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Nerve Block vs Discogram for Diagnosis

CoyoteCCoyote Posts: 120
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:42 AM in Spinal Injections
I recently posted that I had "failed" my discogram - i.e. I have an mri showing mild disc herniation/loss of height at L4-L5, but when they tried to provoke pain (the discogram) in the herniated disc and the adjacent healthy discs I felt no pain whatsoever in ANY of the discs.

I did the discogram to see if I qualified for surgery - I am seeking surgery AS A LAST RESORT - NOTHING ELSE HAS WORKED (over the past 3 years I have tried EVERYTHING). I have some of the pain from facet joints, but this does not account for all of the pain (I had a series of facet joint injections).

The surgeon said I might have been too sedated during the discogram and that's why I didn't feel anything. So he wants be to get another discogram with less sedation. I'm a bit dubious, because if they hit the sweet spot for the pain - it would have been like sticking a drill straight into the nerve of a tooth - I know I would have felt it - even if they gave me heroin!

I don't really want a discogram AGAIN because it's really kind of a big deal procedure, and I knocked my front tooth out last time - I fainted after the procedure. My tooth got jammed in again, but it was a pretty powerful experience.

Anyway - just read on this site about Nerve Blocks as a diagnostic tool. I have had epidural steroid injections and facet joint injections - but no-one ever told me to keep a diary of what I can and can't do, etc. for the few hours after the procedure. The epidural steroid injection (ESI) I had was the only thing that ever made me feel better - but only lasted a week. I'm wondering if a nerve block would help determine the source of my pain. Are nerve blocks and ESI's the same?

Thanks for any input any of you can give me.



  • Thanks Gwennie, for taking the time to clear this up for me - as best as it can be cleared up, because all these tests seem a little vague and iffy. I guess I'll just have to have another Discogram.
    Thanks again.
  • I hurt my back 3 years ago on a roller-coaster ride and I've never gotten better. I have a mild herniation/loss of signal and height - it's very clear on the MRI - L4-L5 is a little black blur - all the other discs are fluffy white clouds. All my bones are perfect, although recently a doctor said I had a bit of facet joint hypertrophy.

    I've had all kinds of pills ( mobic, ibuprofin, oral steroids, celebrex, tramadol, tizanidine. I take Lyrica now, and mega-ibuprofin and oxycodeine for breakthrough pain); ESI's; facet joint injections x 3; 3 x regular PT; 1 x "special/gentle" PT; - the only thing that really touched the pain was the first ESI; but then the second ESI caused sooooooo much pain + made my menstruation a nightmare for about 2-3 months, so I never had a third.

    My symptoms? All movements I do cause pain in my back and the more I do, the more pain I experience, until after a few hours I can only stand and walk holding onto something. Or, I can do too much one day (e.g. go visit a friend and sit around for anything more than 5 hours) and then I can't leave the house for three days for pain. Pain is in the back, but it's like a great band that pulls me down. I also have acute episodes where I hurt my back - getting out of the bath, opening a door, bending over - and then I'm in agony about 3 days, and it takes me about 4 weeks to get back to baseline. My leg aches, and increasingly, so does my foot, but the pain that cripples me is the back pain. I manage daily activities by taking breaks - e.g. I can cook simple meals, but I need to sit down every 15 mins. Can't work, carry anything, clean floors, do laundry.

    I've been to three surgeons - this one will give me a fusion, but I said I didn't want surgery until I knew exactly where the pain was coming from. So that's why he said have another discogram.

    Thanks, Gwennie.
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